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Interim city administrator naming in Dixon not unprecedented

Oswego's police chief served as interim administrator


DIXON – Naming a police chief as an interim city administrator is not uncharted territory.

Municipal governments in Oswego, Channahon, North Aurora and Montgomery have recently had their police chiefs serve as interim administrators, just as Dixon's City Council plans to do.

Mayor Jim Burke announced last week that Police Chief Danny Langloss will be named as a special assistant to the council.

As special assistant, he will fulfill the duties of former public works and personnel director Shawn Ortgiesen, who was often called a "de facto city manager" for Dixon, and help commissioners with their search for a full-time city administrator.

In other words, Langloss will be a temporary city administrator of sorts until one is hired. The police chief said he has no plans to apply for the position, and he will not receive any extra pay. Day-to-day supervision of the police department will be turned over to an assistant chief.

Some of Langloss' new duties will include heading public works department meetings, managing city personnel, participating in budget workshops, facilitating bids for projects, and organizing the city's strategic plan, among other things.

An ordinance is being drafted by the city's attorney to create the position, Burke said, and a special City Council meeting will be called this week to make the move official.

Langloss said his experience as police chief for the past 5 years prepared him for the temporary post. As police chief, he dealt with balancing budgets, managing personnel, and organizing projects.

In Oswego, which has a population of 30,355, Police Chief Dwight Baird was village administrator for 11 months in 2011 and 2012, while keeping his responsibility as police chief.

He said a police chief is well suited for the position because he typically heads the town's largest department. Baird managed 67 staff members in his department, compared to the 113 city employees he oversaw temporarily as administrator.

In comparison, Langloss manages 34 on his force and will oversee about 85 city employees.

"As police chiefs, we're used to making large decisions, used to dealing with liability to the village, and dealing with personnel issues," Baird said. "Those are the three major areas.

"Also, we're used to working with outside agencies to coordinate efforts."

Coordinating a strategic plan was one of Baird's main projects as administrator. Burke said Dixon plans to push forward with its own strategic planning, which Langloss will coordinate.

Baird put his command staff in charge of the day-to-day operations of the police department, as Langloss plans to do by recommending Police Lt. Brad Sibley be named acting assistant police chief.

"I still was very much involved in major decisions," Baird said. "My command staff did an excellent job and really made the move seamless."

Similarly, Langloss said he still will be involved in decision-making in his department.

Joe Pena, Channahon village administrator, served 30 years in police administration, including a year as interim administrator and police chief. The interim period went well enough for him to take on the administrator position full time.

He said working with people and the understanding of government that comes from working as a police chief were strengths when he made the transition. He managed 25 officers as police chief and transitioned to overseeing 75 to 80 village employees as administrator.

The biggest challenge he faced was understanding economic development and business regulations that came with municipal administration.

"The jobs are comparable on an interim basis," said Pena, who serves as an administrator of the village with a population of 12,619. "Speaking to my situation, I had the most trouble, and this would depend on an individual's personal strengths, in land development issues and economic issues. I'm still learning with those."

Pena said his deputy chief handled day-to-day operations of the police department when he was as administrator in the interim. The deputy chief became the full-time police chief when Pena became a full-time administrator.

Pena said he is seeing a trend of police chiefs serving as city or village administrators in the interim.

In North Aurora, Police Chief David Summer is currently the village's administrator, and Montgomery had its police chief do the same.

"It's an ongoing phenomenon in the past 5 to 10 years to move police chiefs over to administration," Pena said. "I don't know if that's a result of the economy, but it's a situation where municipalities can combine duties for effective administration."

Langloss said he plans to reach out to Baird in the next few days to talk with him about the job.

"I met him several years ago," Langloss said. "He's a sharp and brilliant guy, and I'm going to talk with him about his experience."

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